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Mr. Dr. Officer  
#1 Posted : Thursday, February 22, 2018 2:36:10 PM(UTC)
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I had a multi-paragraph screed written up on this question, but I will just ask the question and fill in details if somehow they are important to answering it:

How many unsuccessful interviews would a reasonable person think is enough that they should give up trying to get a new job? I am really getting the impression that after three years of trying to get up or out that I should stop trying (I got this job initially without an interview, adding to my concerns) and go back to the private sector, where I got EVERY job I interviewed for instead of none :/ People talk about having to get through dozens or hundreds of referrals, but I rarely see anyone talking about plowing through dozens or hundreds of interviews.
Beam Reach  
#2 Posted : Thursday, February 22, 2018 4:06:34 PM(UTC)
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It depends on your own pain threshold. The fact that you're getting interviews is a good thing.

I'm new to the game and I'll defer to the old salts, but here's my observation...

One thing that was hard for me to grasp was the way Fed job interviews are done. In the interest of fairness they are pretty much limited to asking every candidate the same questions. that means that if you bring up something they are interested in hearing more about, they really can't ask you to expand on your response. It's up to you to use every question as an excuse to get your story across.

When they ask you a question you should never just give a one or two sentence answer. Answer the question but find a way to sell yourself. My first fed interview they said they were going to ask me five questions, after I answered them there was this awkward silence and they thanked me and ended the interview. It couldn't have taken 10 minutes.

In the civilian world, if you said something that piqued the interviewer's interest he would ask follow up questions, that's not been my experience in the fed world.
gailbuf  
#3 Posted : Thursday, February 22, 2018 5:23:14 PM(UTC)
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I agree Beam Reach. You need to take advantage of the questions and really go into a detailed answer. For example, I had a question on how I creatively solved a problem.

I came up with an answer from 15 years ago, when I developed a program to convert an archaic proprietary image format to bitmap format so that it could be used in more modern image applications. Their alternative was printing out thousands of these ancient images, then re-scanning each printout manually. I saved them a lot of time by developing this program.

I found out later, after I was hired, that they really loved that answer.
thanks 1 user thanked gailbuf for this useful post.
SD Analyst on 2/23/2018(UTC)
TheFrederalGovt  
#4 Posted : Thursday, February 22, 2018 6:22:37 PM(UTC)

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NEVER GIVE UP!

Keep on interviewing and when it is meant to be you will be selected. Many times there is an internal candidate but sometimes there are no internals or multiple internals and they dont want to choose between the two so they select someone from the outside. The more times you interview the more practice you will get.

Keep your head up and let us know WHEN you are selected for the job you want
FrankJr  
#5 Posted : Thursday, February 22, 2018 7:13:28 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Mr. Dr. Officer Go to Quoted Post
I had a multi-paragraph screed written up on this question, but I will just ask the question and fill in details if somehow they are important to answering it:

How many unsuccessful interviews would a reasonable person think is enough that they should give up trying to get a new job? I am really getting the impression that after three years of trying to get up or out that I should stop trying (I got this job initially without an interview, adding to my concerns) and go back to the private sector, where I got EVERY job I interviewed for instead of none :/ People talk about having to get through dozens or hundreds of referrals, but I rarely see anyone talking about plowing through dozens or hundreds of interviews.


The factors at play for the public sectors role may or may not be the same factors at play for private sector roles. Age is one example of a factor at play. Despite the laws in place age discrimination is not uncommon. No good reason not to pursue both private sector roles and fed roles to have a better perspective. Ultimately you may determine the grass is (or isn't) greener on the other side.
GWPDA  
#6 Posted : Thursday, February 22, 2018 8:14:24 PM(UTC)
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Why would you give up?
Mr. Dr. Officer  
#7 Posted : Friday, February 23, 2018 8:26:15 AM(UTC)
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Aww, so many positive responses! Thanks everybody, it is nice to see encouragement on our forums :)

I suppose for as much as I have heard before that you need to "sell yourself" in federal interviews, I had not really put much thought into that being the fundamental difference between public and private sector interviews, where for other jobs they could sort of force you to give them the information they are seeking by asking follow-up questions, rather than having to stick to the script.

Certainly I worry about going too far and talking too much instead if I just think I should keep going endlessly, but, well, could it be any worse than not getting the job for talking too little? I have also always been a little afraid to go too far back in my life to come up with examples for interview questions, so I appreciate Gailbuf's advice; if a 15-year-old example can resonate well with the hiring panel, then I should clearly not have a bright line of "the example must have occurred since I took this job or it is not going to work!"

As for why I would give up, well, the last(ish) straw was an interview from a few months back, where I was obviously nailing the questions and was full of genuine enthusiasm for the job, and the interviewer got in touch with my supervisors the same day... and then I never heard from them again, even after reaching out to thank them for their time. And that is not the first occasion where I have received feedback (either direct or indirect) about having a great interview and then still not gotten the job. But unless/until someone tells me what I am doing wrong that could be making higher-ups tank my recommendations, I am at a loss to what I could do besides just duck out of federal service if this keeps up. I moved across the country away from my family and friends to take this job, since I always heard about how getting your foot in the door with a federal job is an amazing upward trajectory, but I definitely do not see it, and I am certainly over living so far from where I want to be.

And I suppose I might still be bitter that I educationally qualified as a GS-11/12 but I came in as a GS-9 and am now stuck here, hah.
frankgonzalez  
#8 Posted : Friday, February 23, 2018 8:57:28 AM(UTC)
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Reach out an ask the interviewers if you can get feedback on how you could do better in the future and become more competitive. I've done that a few times. A couple of times I was told I was the second choice, and the selectee was already an employee of the agency and but for that, it was a coin toss between us (ok...can't fix that issue, but at least I know I wa*****ting the right marks in the interview). I have also been given some great feedback on making certain I include impact on questions that ask how or what I have done in situations. And I have tightened up that aspect when I interview.

That said, I get interviews for 90+% of applications I put in, with referrals at 99% of the time (one time was an HR screw-up I called them on...got referred and then the position was cancelled! Another time was my screw-up where I forgot to include my most recent SF-50...didn't upload any SF-50! Lesson learned...double check before hitting submit!).

As an interviewer...sell yourself to me. But get the technical stuff accurate. Be confident, but not cocky! That can be a fine line to walk for some people. And when you ask questions (if getting the opportunity to do so) don't start asking questions like "Do you allow 100% telework?" unless that is absolutely your make or break on accepting the job. That can come across as "I want the paycheck and I'm willing to do the work, but I don't want to be part of the team." Do ask about the work schedules and is telework offered to employees, just phrase it as a question looking for work culture vs "what's in it for me?"

And watch the time. This is an area I have to personally be mindful of...I can be verbose. But don't be too short in your responses either...make certain you expand if you have to. An interview scheduled for an hour and hase 10 questions give you 5 minutes a piece, plus a little time for your questions. If you are done in 10-15 minutes...especially if some of the questions are "Tell us of a time when...."...then you may not be in the top rung of candidates no matter how good the resume.
You should have voted Cthulu...the greatest of all Evils
Linds  
#9 Posted : Friday, February 23, 2018 11:54:23 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Mr. Dr. Officer Go to Quoted Post

And I suppose I might still be bitter that I educationally qualified as a GS-11/12 but I came in as a GS-9 and am now stuck here, hah.


Welcome to the club. Educationally I probably should've started off as an 11.......came into the gov't as an 8, got stuck there for almost 9yrs. Then finally got a job as a 9. Stayed there for a year & got an 11. Slowly working my way up.

As for interviews, during my first 9yrs I had maybe half a dozen interviews. Then I moved to the DMV, started applying again & had maybe half a dozen interviews in 8 months. I literally applied for everything & anything that looked interesting & that I felt qualified for.

FedCivServ  
#10 Posted : Monday, February 26, 2018 12:34:56 PM(UTC)

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Use this formula when answering questions: STAR (Situation, Task, Action, RESULT). That last one is in caps because so many people forget it. talk about what YOU did, not what "we" did, and apply the "so what?" test to whatever you have said. Practice, practice, practice. In my agency, the interviewees get 15 min to look at the questions before their 20 min, one way (no questions either way) interview. Most come in w/ a card of examples to plug into the questions. The worst thing is when someone reads verbatim from their card. If they lose their place, they normally lose their minds. Just make yourself notes on examples: "Communications - X briefing to Y on Z". If you have practiced, you will not need anything more than that and it will allow you to speak naturally on what you have done. Give about 3-4 examples to show your breadth. Read up on what the job is and you will be better prepared to answer the questions in a way that will resonate w/ the panel. and NEVER give up... In your situation, it could have been any number of things... someone might have nailed it even more than you did, had a specific experience you didn't have, represented a demographic group the organization is lacking, etc. The only think you can control is YOU and just keep swinging for the fence.
ProfessorFedGuy12  
#11 Posted : Tuesday, February 27, 2018 8:39:39 AM(UTC)
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Keep interviewing. It's free practice. I'm probably at 25% referrals applying for hundreds of jobs, and have done 3 in person interviews in the GS world. I was selected for 2 of the 3 interviews, but was told I was overqualified both times. The second selection was a lateral move to gain experience.
Savvyldy  
#12 Posted : Wednesday, February 28, 2018 10:16:25 AM(UTC)
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The private sector interview process is no comparison, so throw out any ideas you had in that regard....I too got an offer for EVERY job I interviewed for in my 20 year career and always had to turn down multiple offers, when I started the federal interview process after about 6, I did give up....for like a month....and then I kept applying like gangbusters...resulting in 5 more interviews and 2 offers. Your next fed job is out there and if you give up you'll never get it...keep at it!
Mr. Dr. Officer  
#13 Posted : Tuesday, March 13, 2018 8:44:40 AM(UTC)
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I have read and re-read these responses, and I appreciate the feedback for sure (FrankGonzalez and FedCivServ's specific interview suggestions were great, as was the rest of your general encouragement). I get feedback after every failed hiring if they will give me feedback, and unfortunately the reason I am selected is basically always different (and only once was the interview listed at fault, and that was when I had a last-minute phone interview); no experience as an interviewer, insufficient résumé (that was my very first time, I fixed that one at least, haha), "average essay" (incorrect)... those are the only ones coming to mind now. Sadly the jobs where I felt like I had it for sure and my supervisors were contacted and I did not get it I can only assume my supervisors are the reason.

Anyway, as for the deeper reason why I am going to quit if I cannot get a new job--I am applying for a hardship transfer right now for family reasons, and if that fails, and I continue failing to get hired some other way for several more months, then I am just not interested in continuing to sit in a dead-end job across the country from my family in a time of need. They are more important to me than any job could ever have anyway.
zenryo  
#14 Posted : Tuesday, March 13, 2018 9:20:14 AM(UTC)
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I always submit a FOIA request to know what mysterious circumstance caused me to be dropped from a process. That way I know if it was me, some jerk reference (who may hate me for a legit reason)or a mistake I made somewhere in my paperwork. I did learn that when submitting an SF86 for god's sake you must write the reasons why an answer changed or data different from the previous submissions was altered. Always explain, explain and explain. Mitigate and mitigate some more so that way when you are in front of your BG investigator you can explain any situations even better. You can present any proof you have to back up your assertions and the investigator can get a good read on you.

Just my two cents. Hopefully, I am on the last step of my ATF IOI application process. Also, I've submitted my DEA DI SF86 and finished up medical and drug testing. That is my back-up.

Aside from that I am a regulatory State investigator and am going to start my Master's. Just try to keep pushing forward, fix any problems you find along the way, and push on.
TheFrederalGovt  
#15 Posted : Tuesday, March 13, 2018 3:34:17 PM(UTC)

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Originally Posted by: zenryo Go to Quoted Post
I always submit a FOIA request to know what mysterious circumstance caused me to be dropped from a process. That way I know if it was me, some jerk reference (who may hate me for a legit reason)or a mistake I made somewhere in my paperwork. I did learn that when submitting an SF86 for god's sake you must write the reasons why an answer changed or data different from the previous submissions was altered. Always explain, explain and explain. Mitigate and mitigate some more so that way when you are in front of your BG investigator you can explain any situations even better. You can present any proof you have to back up your assertions and the investigator can get a good read on you.

Just my two cents. Hopefully, I am on the last step of my ATF IOI application process. Also, I've submitted my DEA DI SF86 and finished up medical and drug testing. That is my back-up.

Aside from that I am a regulatory State investigator and am going to start my Master's. Just try to keep pushing forward, fix any problems you find along the way, and push on.


Submitting a FOIA request as a knee jerk reaction simply because you were beat out for a position seems like sour grapes. Federal jobs are extraordinarily difficult to get, why waste a minute of the government's time simply because you were not selected?
zenryo  
#16 Posted : Tuesday, March 13, 2018 3:39:01 PM(UTC)
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I think I explained it pretty well. Knowing why you didn't get selected can help you not make the same mistakes again. You can improve your chances that way. Knowledge... Git Gud.

Oh... And knowing is half the battle. GI Joe
zenryo  
#17 Posted : Tuesday, March 13, 2018 3:48:38 PM(UTC)
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Better yet... Which is more of a waste of time: applying again and again, getting nowhere and possibly making mistakes that are fixable or making a Foia request for your own info so that you can successfully go thru the hiring process?

It doesn't help when the gov't provides you with vague feedback like "others were more competitive" when what they really meant was "we saw inexcusable differences between SF86 submissions and suspect you to be a liar and a fraud so we won't give you an opportunity to explain the inconsistencies we observed because you aren't worth it".

With an explanation like that revealed you can fix yourself.
King_Fed  
#18 Posted : Tuesday, March 13, 2018 4:21:34 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: ProfessorFedGuy12 Go to Quoted Post
Keep interviewing. It's free practice. I'm probably at 25% referrals applying for hundreds of jobs, and have done 3 in person interviews in the GS world. I was selected for 2 of the 3 interviews, but was told I was overqualified both times. The second selection was a lateral move to gain experience.


I agree with you in general.... but after "x" many times, interviewing is wasting time. Time is money. The goal is to get a job.

During a typical job search I might put in for 100 jobs, get referred to maybe 20 to 30, get three to five interviews, and get one or two offers.

I recently had a friend show me her job search... she is amazing. She tailors her resume to each job (loads it to usa jobs using their format). She gets an interview each time. She puts days in each one though, has cover letters, recommendation letters tailored to each job, etc. It is honestly amazing the detail and time she puts into each job. She is very successful at it as well.

I don't change anything and blast my resume out... I thought that was success until seeing her. Guess I still get jobs, but I don't pick my job. Difference.
Beam Reach  
#19 Posted : Wednesday, March 14, 2018 12:41:19 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: TheFrederalGovt Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: zenryo Go to Quoted Post
I always submit a FOIA request to know what mysterious circumstance caused me to be dropped from a process. That way I know if it was me, some jerk reference (who may hate me for a legit reason)or a mistake I made somewhere in my paperwork. I did learn that when submitting an SF86 for god's sake you must write the reasons why an answer changed or data different from the previous submissions was altered. Always explain, explain and explain. Mitigate and mitigate some more so that way when you are in front of your BG investigator you can explain any situations even better. You can present any proof you have to back up your assertions and the investigator can get a good read on you.

Just my two cents. Hopefully, I am on the last step of my ATF IOI application process. Also, I've submitted my DEA DI SF86 and finished up medical and drug testing. That is my back-up.

Aside from that I am a regulatory State investigator and am going to start my Master's. Just try to keep pushing forward, fix any problems you find along the way, and push on.


Submitting a FOIA request as a knee jerk reaction simply because you were beat out for a position seems like sour grapes. Federal jobs are extraordinarily difficult to get, why waste a minute of the government's time simply because you were not selected?


Yeah, it's one of those cases where you may be within your rights, but it isn't a good idea. Submitting a FOIA for every job I don't get? I don't have that much time and I apply to multiple positions with the same unit/location. I can't help but think the word is going to get around, it's only reasonable to think that you're going to be viewed as a problem child from day one if hired.

Talk to hiring authorities, one of the most important considerations is how the prospective employee will fit into the team. Nobody wants the guy who is going to file a grievance every time someone gets an extra scoop of ice cream.
King_Fed  
#20 Posted : Wednesday, March 14, 2018 2:02:54 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Beam Reach Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: TheFrederalGovt Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: zenryo Go to Quoted Post
I always submit a FOIA request to know what mysterious circumstance caused me to be dropped from a process. That way I know if it was me, some jerk reference (who may hate me for a legit reason)or a mistake I made somewhere in my paperwork. I did learn that when submitting an SF86 for god's sake you must write the reasons why an answer changed or data different from the previous submissions was altered. Always explain, explain and explain. Mitigate and mitigate some more so that way when you are in front of your BG investigator you can explain any situations even better. You can present any proof you have to back up your assertions and the investigator can get a good read on you.

Just my two cents. Hopefully, I am on the last step of my ATF IOI application process. Also, I've submitted my DEA DI SF86 and finished up medical and drug testing. That is my back-up.

Aside from that I am a regulatory State investigator and am going to start my Master's. Just try to keep pushing forward, fix any problems you find along the way, and push on.


Submitting a FOIA request as a knee jerk reaction simply because you were beat out for a position seems like sour grapes. Federal jobs are extraordinarily difficult to get, why waste a minute of the government's time simply because you were not selected?


Yeah, it's one of those cases where you may be within your rights, but it isn't a good idea. Submitting a FOIA for every job I don't get? I don't have that much time and I apply to multiple positions with the same unit/location. I can't help but think the word is going to get around, it's only reasonable to think that you're going to be viewed as a problem child from day one if hired.

Talk to hiring authorities, one of the most important considerations is how the prospective employee will fit into the team. Nobody wants the guy who is going to file a grievance every time someone gets an extra scoop of ice cream.


In most of the offices (private and fed), a FOIA office handles the requests. I'd think HR would get it and maybe the people hiring/interviewing would have to submit some emails. In my current case and in the past, we don't know why... we are simply requested to put all emails from <date> / <subj/incident> in x location (or flat out give a small group access to our emails). Other people handle it.

To be honest, we are too busy to give thought to each FOIA... that is why there is a FOIA office (or in one case we had a paralegal handle them).

Other places could be different... dunno.
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